by Kevin Clifford
Chicago born multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, released the glorious 12” orange cream colored vinyls bearing the name DROOL. The young co-founder of Sooper Records plays drums, bass, and MC’s in Monobody, Itto, and the Sooper Swag Project, but for this outing he expands his listening base to lovers of R&B, hip-hop, and electronic.
While many artists forge their musical identities in a single style and one instrument, Ogbonnaya’s talent sprawls from hip-hop to math to gospel to punk to jazz. A Black, Jewish, first generation Nigerian-American, he adds to the ever-evolving conversation of what gives someone an American identity. I see his music as the expression of freedom to share love, truth, and stories that enlighten us.
Thankfully, I was able to talk with Nnamdi about the new project.
Play Too Much: Can you discuss the history behind your multi-instrumentalist style and how it informed the production of this record?
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: I grew up playing percussion, starting in 5th grade. The middle school band director came to recruit people to be in band and we took tests to see what our instruments should be. I tied between trumpet and drums, but I chose drums because it seemed more fun and practical to hit than hitting a trumpet. I also took like a years worth of piano lessons around this time, but finally stopped when I got a drum set because again, hitting a piano was frowned upon by my teacher and I had all this pent up tween angst from listening to Godsmack that I had to release somehow.
PTM: How much of the album was on acoustic instruments vs. digital?
NO: There are only 2 songs with some live instruments and its the first two.
PTM: Do you begin writing your music on acoustic or electronic instruments, or both?
NO: Both usually, but for this album it was either vocals first or just a simple melody that jump started the beat making process.
PTM: Is there was one word you could use to capture the intent of this project, what would it be?
PTM: Who was playing horns on “Cindy OsO”? It’s incredible!
NO: My homie Sen Morimoto plays all the sax on that track. He is one of my favorite musicians of all time.
PTM: How much of being a Chicagoan informs your musical identity?
NO: I feel like usually it hasn’t outside of this album. I love living here, but I’m not a city person or like a hometown pride type of guy. I’d like to think if you put me in pretty much any location I would be doing a very similar thing regardless. That being said, I wasn’t really out and about doing shit in the city at the beginning of making a lot of these early tracks. I was bouncing around from 3 locations tops for the most part and that kinda built this skewed narrow view of my city life. My perception slowly expanded as the album progressed through meeting people, being more open in, forming relationships that came and went. I don’t think I would have made this album if I didn’t live in Chicago, and this is the first album I’m a part of that I think that its true for.
PTM: Where and when are you performing live?
NO: [I just returned from touring] down to SXSW. Then touring with So Much Light in early May, then late May early June I am touring with PWR BTTM and Tancred. I have a lot more plans after as well. Hopefully they’ll get announced soon.